Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Lieu of a Rant

For all my stated dread that the film of Watchmen -- a book that I really, dearly love -- would be terrible, I have to admit that I always thought I'd probably end up seeing it anyway, just because I'm a geek and this is my culture...

...until I saw the second theatrical trailer.

(I won't link. Google it yourself.*)

It made it look so bad -- not the look, strictly speaking, but the way they seemed to be approaching the movie, the metastasis of idiotic genre conventions into the film of a book explicitly and brilliantly devoted to subverting them,** the little turns of phrase which indicate that they are going to gut the book, stuff it with cotton fluff, and see if the mounted carcass can serve as well as the living animal -- that I think I am going to seriously try to skip it.

I didn't want even that much of their neutered version in my head or my ears my eyes -- let alone a full two hours worth.

(Oddly, the first trailer had made me want to see it more than I had: it made it look like they were keeping more of the book's spirit than I had guessed they would.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wash out my mind with something. Bleach.

[This has been a test of the blogger ranting system. If this were a genuine rant, I would go through the trailer frame-by-frame and explain in exhausting detail why, how and precisely which details make the film look so mind-liquifyingly stupid. But to do that, I'd have to see the damn trailer again, and I'd rather watch Jar Jar Binks's reenactment of Birth of a Nation with a polka soundtrack.]

* If and only if you happen to have woken up this morning, looked in the mirror, and thought, "Gosh, I have far too many brain cells. How can kill a large number of them off quickly and efficiently?" Otherwise -- really -- give it a miss.

** In a slightly different genre: the book was about the conventions of the superhero comic as of its mid-eighties creation; the film seems to be falling into the (slightly different) genre conventions of the contemporary superhero film.


Matthew J. Brady said...

As with most other adaptations of stuff I like, I've found myself becoming less and less worried about how terrible a movie version of a comic I like will turn out. I used to get all worked up about that stuff, but lately I don't really care, outside of general interest. People do ask me about the movie, since they know I like comics, but I say that I don't think it will be especially good, and almost certainly will fail to live up to/miss the point of the source material. But I'll always have the original comic, much like with V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell. And that's just limiting it to the Alan Moore-based comics adaptations; there's plenty more besides that could be complained about.

Actually, now I'm kind of interested in the movie, just to see how bad the misinterpretation gets. Divorcing yourself of caring about it is kind of liberating, really.

Stephen said...

I admire, but can't quite hold to, this attitude. I can see on some level that "I'll always have the original comic" is true; but I also feel that later film adaptations do, in fact, influence reader's perceptions of books -- and far too often for the worse. And so if I care enough about the material... I do care.

Detachment is liberating, I can see, but I can't quite bring myself to it.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Expectations could play to it as well, in that when you hope an adaptation might be good only to have your hopes gradually dashed, it seems that much worse. I think I checked out of the Watchmen movie as soon as Zach Snyder was named as director. If, say, Terry Gilliam was doing it, I might be excited and then much more disappointed if it failed to be good.

But it does sound like you might be worried about general perception of the work if the movie fails to be good. That's something to consider, although I often just worry about what I think, rather than what others think, so if they think of Watchmen as "that kickass superhero movie" instead of "that rich, multilayered graphic novel which deconstructed the superhero genre", well, that's their loss. But bad art has a tendency to be forgotten, or at least minimized, I think. Years later, the book will still be considered amazing, even if it spawned a poor adaptation. These days, people think of the novel if you mention Catch-22, rather than the mediocre (from what I've heard; I haven't seen it) movie version.